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The Lava Province
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Laurens Vernot clearly has big dreams, and seems to cast the net of his songs wide enough that he might just catch one. Easily beguiling enough to appear in the opening sequence of a PG movie or an after-school Disney Channel TV show for the “Tween” market, his songs also maintain just enough edge to cause older fans of late 80s and mid-90s radio rock to take notice. Track six, “Can’t Keep Me Away,” recalls Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” in its opening and chorus, yet with smoother guitars and warm harmonies that might also please a fan of certain modern indie pops. The album’s second song, “The Sign,” finds Vernot projecting his mass-market fantasies into a moment of synthesized stadium audience cheer sounds set to a marching-rhythm snare, some lone power chords followed by a few wanked-out notes of solo guitar, and then the chorus: “When the time comes / I will not require the sign / I’ll remember my lines.” Vernot’s clear, doubled vocals and easy-access melodies have a universal quality aimed to please, and might just be the perfect airwave compromise for a road-trip family vacation.

Favorite: Track 6 “Can't Keep Me Away ”

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Steve Gunn is a hard-boiled suburban New Yorker with a PhD in rockology and the propensity to point with full-throttle moxie up to his ears and unflinchingly declare, “Hey! These things ain’t garbage cans, y’know!”

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